Libyan Law and Society

Libyan Law and Society

Child Marriage in Libya: Ignored by Society, Unprotected by Legislation

Marwan Tashani and Jazia Gibril argue that child marriage in Libya constitutes a problem, even if it has been legalised. For the Legal Agenda, they explore the practice's prevalence, effects, and its status in the eyes of legislation and the judiciary.

The father, accompanied by his daughter, 13 or perhaps a little older, enters the District Court near his home and heads to the office of the judge of urgent and non-contentious matters. He asks the judge to grant him, as his underage daughter’s guardian, permission for her to marry, presenting her birth certificate along with the request. Upon examining the request, the judge is surprised by the child’s age. Amazed, he asks her, “Do you wish to get married?”. She nods. Cautious, the judge requests that the father step out of the office. He then asks her again alone, and, visibly confused, she gives the same answer without raising her head. The judge looks at her and sees before his eyes a child not fit for marriage and perhaps afraid of her father. But the judge is bound by the text of the law, which gives guardians the power to ask such permission, and so his heart aches as he is forced to sign the permission.

This scene is not from a novel nor a tragic play. Rather, it is an imagined scenario based on similar situations that recur almost constantly in most of Libya’s District Courts. When we frequent any such court or examine the records of non-contentious orders, the issue of underage marriage is plainly evident. As a negative social phenomenon, it should be branded a problem even if it has been legalized. Despite creating several social, cultural, psychological, health, and economic issues it has received no attention from the government, community, or media. In this article, we shall analyze the legislative aspect of this phenomenon and its numerous repercussions.

Read the rest of the piece by Marwan Tashani and Jazia Gibril, titled 'Child Marriage in Libya: Ignored by Society, Unprotected by Legislation' over at Legal Agenda.